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Four Boys and a Gun (1957)
Directed by William Berke

This is one of those “how did these boys go wrong” flicks, except that, i) the “boys” are too old, and ii) I really never cared how or why they went wrong.

The leader of this unlucky quartet is Frank Sutton, who was in his mid-thirties when he made this film. He has a crew cut, is not very good-looking, yet seems to do well with the chicks. In other words, this is a fantasy film. The rest of the group is comprised of actors making their film debuts: James Franciscus, William Hinnant, and Larry Green. Of course, Franciscus had a decent career in film and television, Hinnant had a modest career, and Green had none.

The film opens with the guys knocking over a sports arena. As they flee, one of them fatally shoots a cop. Sutton still has the time to pick up an unattractive dame in a bar, but she drops a dime on him. After they are captured, the film turns into flashbacks of all four characters and how they ended up pulling the heist. This is where you want to take an extended bathroom break. First, there is Green’s story. He is just a loser. He finds out his girlfriend is making it with their boss, because the boss has dough and the girlfriend is obviously the town mattress. He slugs the boss, which gets him fired. Then, he whines to his mother that she always makes him pancakes, when he would like some eggs for a change. Then he tells his sister to buzz off. Pretty soon, he is lying on a pool table trying to think of a way to get some fast cash, while Hinnant is playing dice next to him. Now what is Hinnant’s story? I don’t know, it went by so fast, I forgot what his problem was – although he is short, wears glasses, and can’t get any chicks. I guess that’s enough to mess him up. Sutton works for a collection agency, if you get my drift. But he has been spending the dough on Green’s sister, so now he is in hock for three c-notes. Franciscus is an amateur boxer, and his wife is pregnant. He needs cash to pay for her delivery. So how will they all get some money? Hey kids, let’s put on a dance. I’m not kidding. They invite a bunch of extras to a dance hall, and raffle off a television set. Unfortunately, while the dance is going on, the boss of the collection agency shows up and i) hits on Sutton’s chick, and ii) has his goons rob the place. Now the four have no money, and still owe $159.95 for the television set. Their last chance is to see if Franciscus can get a pro boxing contract, but even that falls through. Which brings us to the heist.

In the finale, the four have to decide which one will confess to the shooting. The District Attorney, played by the pudgy Otto Hulett, tells them that three of them will get life, with a chance for parole, while the shooter will get the chair. Since we never actually see who did the shooting, there is some slight suspense here as the guys figure out who will take the fall. But the suspense soon turns into tedium, as they decide to shoot dice for the privilege of confessing (low total gets the chair). Franciscus and Green tie for low; they both roll snake-eyes. The probability of getting snake-eyes in two consecutive rolls is 1 out of 1296, so we’re pushing credibility here. Sutton insists that Franciscus and Green roll again. But Green says everyone should roll again. Now I started yawning – I hate “do overs.” Franciscus rolls first, then Green rolls the dice under a table so nobody can see the total. This is really pitiful. I say fry every one of them.

The women in the film act like airheads, especially Green’s sister. The producers tried to make up for this by inserting girlie posters in several scenes. It did not work. There are a load of familiar faces in the cast, including J. Pat O’Malley as Franciscus’ manager, Ned Glass as the dance hall owner, and Frank Marth as a hood. They are all fine. But Karl Swenson, as Hinnant’s ethnic father (I don’t know what ethnicity he was trying for) does a bad impersonation of Jean Hersholt. Anne Seymour, as Green’s hapless mother, looks too much like Denver Pyle. In a nice bit of casting, Joe Campanella plays the cop who is shot, while his older brother Frank Campanella plays the arresting officer. Roy Campanella was unavailable for the film, as he was catching for the Dodgers.

Today, this guy would get sued for having that wall calendar.


Well, this film was ahead of its time.


The casting call for the remake of Rear Window.


“Hey, if it worked for Christine Jorgensen, it can work for me.”


One of Lacoste’s early designs. It did not catch on.


“Stop whining, you know this is the best way to take your temperature.”


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I knew there was something wrong with slugging the boss and telling your sister to buzz off, but I coudn't quite put my finger on it. Thanks to you, I now have the information I need to avoid a life of crime.

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  • 4 weeks later...

*Billy Jack, The Trial of Billy Jack* and *Billy Jack Goes to Washington* (not back to back, I don't think any of us can handle that!).


Billy, Billy, Billy!!!!


For the sake of humanity, it has to be done!

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> {quote:title=lzcutter wrote:}{quote}"Billy Jack", "The Trial of Billy Jack" and "Billy Jack Goes to Washington" (not back to back, I don't think any of us can handle that!).


> Billy, Billy, Billy!!!!


> For the sake of humanity, it has to be done!

Purty Pleeze? At least one Billy?


And thanks for explaining the cadre of Campanellas! :-)

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Kitten With a Whip (1964)
Directed by Douglas Heyes

I’m still waiting for the whip. Lash me baby, lash me.

The opening theme is snazzy and jazzy, and is a great riff with saxes, brass, piano, and electric guitar. Unfortunately, the film starts shortly thereafter.

So guys, here is the dilemma. You come home from a night on the town with your friends, your wife and daughter are away, and you find Ann-Margret sleeping in your kid’s bed. What do you do?

If you are politician John Forsythe, you do everything wrong. He falls for her story that she is running away from an abusive relationship. So he buys her some clothes, hands her some dough, and lets her off at a bus stop so she can start over. Since there is still over an hour left in the movie, you know this is gonna go bad. He meets his pal (Richard Anderson) for a drink, and sees Ann’s picture plastered all over the television. Seems she just escaped from a juvenile detention joint and stabbed a matron. By the time he gets home, she is there, watching cartoons (Sylvester the cat, if you are interested). She blackmails him into letting her stay, claiming she will scream rape if he calls the cops. She also scratches his chest for effect. There is a hilarious scene where Forsythe is on the phone with his wife, while Ann is pulling his cord. Then she plays hide and seek when Anderson and his nosy wife (Patricia Barry) stop over. Forsythe has his hands full with this nubile nymph, but just when you think it can’t get any worse for him, Ann’s friends show up (Peter Brown, Skip Ward, and Diane Sayer) and make themselves at home. Sayer plays an airhead, Ward plays a guy ready to explode, and Brown plays a philosopher named Ron who tries to keep a lid on everyone by spouting pearls of wisdom.

The arrival of this trio marks where the film turns into higher quality trash. One has to admire Brown (or feel sorry for him) for mouthing gems like “oh, we all need words to live by – Give us this day our daily dread.” Later, when Ward slugs Forsythe, Brown chastises him with “Man, you can’t stop hatred with violence, only with non-hatred. Now cool it, you creep, and co-exist!” Brown later gets his arm accidentally sliced by Ward (so much for co-existing), and this gives everyone an excuse to drive to Tijuana. After Forsythe drives through a barbed-wire fence, Ward gets out to clear the debris, but Ann hits the gas pedal. Then they dump Brown at a doctor’s joint, and head off to a hotel. This is where Ann and Forsythe are set to part, except that Ann takes his car keys and locks herself in the hotel room. At this point, I think Forsythe could have gotten away with justifiable homicide.

Let’s just fast-forward here because it’s get too crazy even for me. Eventually Brown and Ward show up at the hotel, Ward sporting contusions and Brown sporting a sombrero. Ward gets conked with a bottle, there is a car chase, and most of the cast is offed. The ending is a copout. And I’m still waiting for the whip.

Forsythe is convincing as a poor sap who just wants to help someone out and gets sucked into a nightmare. Ann prances around a lot, but never really comes off as a sexpot. However, she does make a good psycho-b****. Brown has the distinction of probably being the only actor ever to wear a derby and a sombrero in the same film. The background music features one of Henry Mancini’s themes from Touch Of Evil.

The film could use some subtitles for the philosophically-impaired.

For instance, Forsythe asks “You mean there’s a pattern to that gibberish?”

Brown replies “Gibberish? Oh, no … those are the meanings of the meaningless, the exactitudes of the inexact … man, don’t you dig the desire not to communicate?”

Yes. In fact, I would prefer you don’t communicate any more.

Ward chimes in with “Listen to him man, Ron is a very high priest.”

Yes, he’s very high. Give me some of that stuff.


“Oh come now, you’re going to stuff all those tissues in that bra?”


“Charlie, if we can find one more girl, maybe we can open up a detective agency.”


Just a tip – if your room has a porthole, you might want to get a shade for it.


“You haven’t got a chance Walter. You’ll never make the border. You’ll never even make the elevator.”


The number on the door exceeds the combined IQ of everyone in this photo.


“This man, the Honorable Henry T. Fleming, should go right to f****** jail! The son of a b**** is guilty!”


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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

Girls Town (1959)
Directed by Charles Haas

This is the ultimate trashfest. With Mamie Van Doren getting top billing (no pun intended) and also starring Mel Tormé as a crumb, Paul Anka as a singer, Maggie Hayes as a nun, and child stars (now grown up) Gigi Perreau and Elinor Donohue, it appears that producer Albert Zugsmith just snagged people at random on the MGM lot and threw them into this monstrosity.

The film opens with Tormé making out with some chick. Meanwhile, another guy (Harold Lloyd, Jr. in a brief bit) is chasing after another chick, but he goes tumbling off a cliff. Tormé immediately suspects Mamie was responsible, and confronts her at a weenie roast. But Mamie claims she gave Lloyd the brush-off: “I got tired of you cats with the fast cars and slow heads. You give me a pain in the ear.” Nevertheless, Mamie is railroaded and sent to Girls Town, which is run by Mother Veronica (Maggie Hays). Mamie is assigned to a room with Gigi Perreau, but immediately runs afoul of Gloria Talbott, who apparently likes to kick a**es for the hell of it. In a confusing subplot, Perreau has an imaginary thing for a singer named Jimmy Parlow, played by Paul Anka. We get to hear Anka sing “Lonely Boy,” but it gets even worse, trust me.

Every ten minutes it seems there is a rumble at Girls Town. In one scene, a fight breaks out at a dance when Perreau sees Anka dancing with another chick. In another sequence, it appears the girls are playing dodge ball, with Mamie as the ball.

But back to the plot. Tormé starts hanging around with Mamie’s sister (Elinor Donohue, as a blonde). They have a drag race with Dick Contino, who apparently was famous at one time for playing the accordion. He certainly was not famous for acting. Contino goes belly up when his car crashes. Tormé and Donohue flee the scene, then Mel realizes that Donohue is the one who was on the cliff with Lloyd, so he decides to send her to Tijuana to shut her up. If you are getting confused, join the club.

In the exciting finale, Mamie busts out of Girls Town to rescue her sister. She is joined by Talbott, who is converted to Mamie’s side. That’s because Talbott sees Mamie praying to a statue of St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes. The director should have tried that. Mamie and Talbott accost Tormé and some musclehead in a hilarious brawl. Talbott uses karate moves on the big goon, while Mamie loads her stocking with a rock and proceeds to knock the crap out of Tormé. (There just happens to be a rock on the table in the cabin where Tormé is holed up.) Tormé attempts to fight back with a baseball bat, but Anka and Hayes arrive in the nick of time. Anka slugs Tormé and forces him to retract the lyrics to “The Christmas Song.” Mamie leaves Girls Town reformed, and starts her own convent. Just kidding.

This film is really a mess. The Platters sing a tune, columnist Sheilah Graham plays a nun (Army Archerd failed his screen test), and bandleader Ray Anthony (Mamie’s real-life hubby) appears as a private eye pretending to be a delivery man pretending to be an actor. Anka looks like Danny Thomas’ and Dustin Hoffman’s love child. The lowlight (and it was tough just finding one) is when Anka sings “Ave Maria” to Mamie in church, and she cries. I did too, but for different reasons. On the plus side, there are plenty of scenes where the cameraman manages to linger on Mamie just enough to make this somewhat watchable.

The dumbest line in the movie goes to the actor playing Lloyd’s father, who glares at Mamie and says “I’ll never understand what my son saw in you.” Pops, get yourself a medical checkup.

After awhile, you may notice there is someone else is in this photo.


For those of you who never attended a Catholic school, this is a signal that you are about to get your a** kicked.


Mamie attempts to pump information out of Gigi Perreau.


I could swear that Harry Hamlin beheaded this thing in Clash of the Titans.


Mamie gives Mel Tormé some pie.


“Mr. Anka, unfortunately, you did it your way, and now she’s having your baby.”


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Dick Contino had a lounge act in Las Vegas about the time this film was made. He was well known for his accordion playing.


Re: Sheilah Graham, do you suppose F. Scott Fitzgerald took a spin or three in his grave over her agreeing to make an appearance in this film?


So, did Gigi Perreau have an imaginary thing for Paul Anka or was he an imaginary, lonely boy?


Sorry, couldn't resist. :)


As always, you owe me a keyboard.

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Lynn, thanks for the info on Contino. I wonder if he ever subbed for Myron Floren on the Lawrence Welk Show.


I never got the appeal of Anka when he was younger - when he got older, I liked his stuff a lot better.


And I think Mamie should be a guest programmer on TCM, or at least "Star of the Night." I still have not seen her classic Sex Kittens Go To College, so she could lead off with that.

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There's some great stunt casting here. I can't help but think John Waters must have been inspired by "Girls Town" when he was casting "Hairspray" and "Cry-Baby". You're so right about Mamie; she hosted a series of bad girl movies for home video back when and I too would love to see her on TCM. Honor where honor is due.

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Wow, another great review of a movie from this so called genre. (I say so called because I don't know if these type of movies rate a genre all their own!).


I admit I was interested in what you would say about this movie since it has more talented actors (well at least more well known ones) than most of the pictures mentioned here.

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